5 Ways To Support Your Immune System with Nutrition
Yes, we know spring is around the corner, but for some reason the last few weeks of winter is the time when we can be most susceptible to colds, flu, viruses or general feelings of being run-down. One of the best ways to support your immune system during this time is through good nutrition.
Our immune system works by recognising and eliminating invading and foreign cells that could cause us harm including bacteria, parasites and viruses. Yet, when we are run down and our immune systems are under pressure, from stress, lifestyle, poor diets and more, we may be more susceptible to infections, catching a cold or the latest virus.
However, don’t sweat, there is a great deal that you can do with nutrition and lifestyle inventions that can help bolster the immune system. Check out my top five tips to introduce today.
Yes, it’s cold outside, but don’t let that discourage you from getting your exercise in. Exercise promotes blood circulation and mobilises antibodies and white blood cells which are responsible for detecting and attacking bacteria and viruses. The NHS suggests adults should be physically active in some way every day, and engage in at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity (gardening, brisk walking, swimming) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (running, dancing, spinning). If you don’t want to leave the house, check out some online classes that you can do in the comfort of your own home.
A good night’s sleep, anything between 7-9 hours, may help strengthen the disease-fighting ability of T cells. A recent study showed that just one night of 4 hours’ sleep depleted the body’s natural killer cells by 70%! Optimise your sleep by reducing blue light exposure omitted from technology, time your caffeine intake (no later than 3 pm) and consider trying some sleepy herbal teas such as Tulsi tea, Chamomile or Pukka’s Sleepy Blend.
Always at the top of the list for immune support is Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory activity (1) and supports the body’s ability to fight infection. Our bodies cannot actually make Vitamin C, so we must obtain it from what we eat and drink. Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, broccoli, cranberry, kale, peppers and oranges.
Did you know that 70% of our immune cells are located in the gastrointestinal tract? And part of that immune response is contributed to by our gut bacteria and its balance. In order to have a healthy and thriving gut flora, consider working on your gut health. For more info on our gut health advice, download Clarissa’s FREE Great Gut Health E-book here.
Dehydration is often associated with hot weather, but it’s just as important to maintain your hydration levels during the colder months. Your body requires enough water to remove toxins and waste materials, which is vital for the immune system. Aim for 1.5-2 litres of water every day and if you are craving something warm reach for herbal teas such as lemon and ginger.
Vitamin D contributes to immune system strength, and through the darker, colder months our Vitamin D levels can be at risk of depletion, thanks to the lack of sun exposure. Food sources of vitamin D include dairy, mushrooms and some fatty fish, but it can be difficult to obtain adequate amounts through diet alone. This is why the NHS recommends that from October – April those living in the UK should consider taking a supplement of 10mcg/400iu per day of Vitamin D. My favourite is BetterYou’s Vitamin D. My favourite vitamin D is BetterYou’s Vitamin D Spray.
(1) Jialal I, Singh U: Is vitamin C an antiinflammatory agent? Am J Clin Nutr 2006; 83(3): 525-6.